Disk Clean combined with the Scheduled Task feature

Welcome back to another fun filled adventure with The Weekly Geek!

Several weeks ago we went over how to manually have Windows clean up your hard drive, and the last two weeks we have gone over how to have Windows automatically check you disk for errors. This week we are going to combine the Disk Clean feature with the Scheduled Tasks feature so you can have Windows automatically clean up your hard drive, so you can set it and forget it. For those of you using Windows 95 or NT, you do not have this ability because the Disk Clean tool is not included with those versions, we will cover a “How to” work around in a couple of weeks.

Remember: if you have a third party program such as Norton System Works, you can set their programs to run in various ways so check the users guide or “Help” section to check on automating their tasks. Since I will not presume which programs you have, we are going to use the abilities provided by Microsoft.

When you schedule Disk Cleanup in Windows 2000 or XP the Microsoft console pops up but the program does not run. To schedule Disk Clean Up in the “Task Manager” of Windows 2000 and XP and have it automatically run, you need to type a couple lines of text, because this will take a little extra room we covered that in last weeks edition.

If you have Windows 98, 98SE or ME let’s get started. The very first thing you want to do is be sure “Disk Cleanup” is working and set up properly. To do this, go to the lower left corner of you screen and select “Start” then “Programs” then “Accessories” then “System Tools” and finally “Disk Cleanup”.

  • You will be asked which drive to clean, for now simply click on “OK”.
  • A new screen will appear, make sure that every check box is checked under “Files to Delete” and then select “OK” .
  • Then “Yes” again to the “Are you sure” pop up.
  • If the program begins, you can select “Cancel” and continue on.

You want to run Disk Clean in each hard drive partition that you have in order to get rid of the extra “stuff” you don’t need. This program is rather conservative and only cleans files that are over a week old. Notice that I said “files that are over a week old” this means that not all temporary or unneeded files are removed. Also, the Disk Cleanup feature does not clean all extra “stuff” just what it was programmed to find. Disk Cleanup can take a while to do its thing so you should probably run it during dinner or at night by scheduling it.

To schedule Disk Clean you need to be at your desktop (the screen you see when you first turn on your computer and it finishes “booting”).

  • You will need to double-click the “My Computer” icon (picture).
  • When the new window appears you need to double-click on the “Scheduled Tasks” icon. On this screen you will see what tasks, if any are scheduled.
  • To continue double-click on the “Add Scheduled Task” icon. On the first page of the Wizard (the program that will walk you through setting this up) select “Next”.
  • The next screen will take you to a choice of files to use, simply scroll down the list to “Disk Cleanup” (the items should be in alphabetical order). Once you see “Disk Clean” click one time on it and then choose the “Next” button.
  • The next screen will let you name the routine (I always leave it the default name) and how often you want the program to run, I would suggest “Monthly”. Simply click the box beside “Monthly” and then click on the “Next” button.
  • The next screen allows you to schedule the time of the Disk Cleanup. You can choose the “start time” and the day or time of month. Make sure that it is a time that the computer is on each and every month. As a rule of thumb I choose the “First Monday” of every month. When have made your choice, choose the “Next” button to continue.
  • Once the new window that appears, I place a check in the box beside the “Open advanced properties” button and then I select “Finish”.

You will have completed the Scheduled Task portion and be brought into the actual options menu. On this entirely new window you will need to select the “Settings” tab and change “Stop the task if it runs for” from “72” hours to “12” and under the “Power Management” section place a check mark next to “Wake the computer to run this task” then select “OK”.

One final thing to do is to make sure everything will run. To do this go to the Scheduled Task list and right click on your newly created task (Disk Cleanup) and then choose “Run”. You should see the Disk Cleanup box appear and run. Depending on when you last ran the cleanup and how many drives you have this might take a while. If nothing happens you should see an error message under the “Status” section of the window.

Stay tuned for next weeks exciting edition of The Weekly Geek when we will resume our normal course of action and show you how to run disk cleanup and automate it if you have Windows 95 or NT, until then have a virus free week.